Bond cleared of blame for helicopter ditching

FLASHBACK: The ditched Super Puma being lifted ashore at Peterhead on May 11
FLASHBACK: The ditched Super Puma being lifted ashore at Peterhead on May 11

Helicopter manufacturer Eurocopter has cleared operator Bond of any blame for a ditching incident in the North Sea last month.

The aviation giant – which built the Super Puma which had to make an emergency landing on the sea off Aberdeen last month – said Bond was not responsible for the accident.

Two crew and 12 passengers had to be rescued in what was the third serious incident involving a Bond Super Puma in three years.

Eurocopter said the skill of the Bond pilots and the design of the aircraft saved their lives.

The French firm said the investigation into the ditching on May 10 had established the incident was caused by a loss of oil pressure in the EC225 model’s main gearbox.

A Eurocopter statement said: “The preliminary findings have shown that the incident was caused by a rupture of the shaft driving the two lubrication pumps, thus explaining the total loss of main gearbox oil pressure.

“At this stage of the investigation, neither procedure failure nor human error by Bond have been identified as a potential contributor to the cause of the incident.

“The Bond aircrew demonstrated their professionalism and skill in handling this incident, in accordance with the EC225 flight manual emergency procedure, which along with the excellent behaviour of this aircraft in the ditching situation prevented any loss of life.”

Eurocopter added that the investigation was ongoing and it was keeping in contact with Bond and other North Sea helicopter operators.

It said: “Eurocopter is devoting strong efforts to fully understand in a timely manner the root cause of this failure, together with the investigation boards and the European Aviation Safety Agency.”

Malcolm Paine, managing director of Bond Offshore Helicopters, said: “We are grateful to receive Eurocopter’s statement, which supports the preliminary view that the controlled ditching on May 10 was a result of a mechanical failure.

“Importantly, Eurocopter have recognised the professionalism and skill of Bond air crew in handling the incident.

“We fully support Eurocopter’s efforts to understand the root cause of the failure and will continue to work with them and the authorities to ensure the continuation of safe operations for our customers and our crews.”